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    How do you folks use it ?!?!


    Hi KOS,
    You nailed the problem with this question.

    People can't use CTR as a ranking factor because they can't control any SERP results nor measure what happened when they did something (that is excluding anything that may risk a Google penalty).

    If we could measure a change in SE referrals with any CTR changes, we would not be debating whether it even exists.

    1. CTR is controlled by the searcher and Google. The SEO is extremely limited to anything that might impact CTR!

    If folk are implementing effective SEO, individual web pages should be targeting scores of different search queries.

    Problem: Google defines the page title/description displayed in the SERPs.

    If there are folk out there who think they can control what is displayed in the G. SERPs with title and meta description tags, they are badly misinformed and/or way out of date.

    We are now at a point where 4 words is the average length of a search query and G will decide what words it thinks are most relevant to describe a SERP page listing.

    Add to this G increasing the length of displayed descriptions and we should have scores/hundreds of different listing description for every page on a site.

    You don't even know what searchers are looking for, you can't see any accurate Analytics stats, how/why do you think G's descriptions are any use at all? Of course you don't!

    2. No Analytics Data

    My clients' Analytics reports indicate that up to 99.8% of search query referral data is "not provided".

    The Search Console data only shows 34% of CTR data and of course, this is no measure of page "quality" based on content or the type of visitor to the page.

    So, what are folk to do with this hypothetical CTR metric?

    They can offer ideas about how they may use this crystal ball theory of SEO but they will be totally unable to justify what they did and why.
    Last edited by JohnAimit; Jan 15th, 2018 at 04:28 AM.
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    Hi John

    I think the point I was making is that Google does in fact use it... Not whether we can actually duplicate Google's use of it.

    I do know that adding schema for "starred ratings" increases the ctr for those pages I use it on by measuring the client flow thru the website.

    I run analysis on sites I manage by recording the path they take with a database, I do not solely rely upon Google's Tools!!! That would be foolish ! I know where they enter the site, which page leads to which page, how long they stay on a page and so on etc,etc.

    The fact that Google uses CTR to in "CONTROLLED SITUATIONS" to adjust their main algo's is proof, by Googles on admission, enough for me that it is one of the 200 + signals that they use.

    Do they tell us what those signals are ?? No they do not, why is this do you suppose ?? It is to keep us and others from manipulating the SERPs! If we all knew how to recreate this secret sauce, then we would be back to square one, ie , pre 2013 days of SEO.

    I like the fact that it is a constantly evolving job. Keeps me engaged and on my toes. Can the average joe smo that does SEO compete ?? I actually think not ! We see here on SeoChat many users asking "Can some one help me, my clients site is plunging into the depths of SERP HELL !"

    That tells me they just sit on the coattails of us that do! Remember, "Imitation is the greatest form of Flattery" That they come here and listen to use, duplicate our efforts, should indicate we actually know what we are talking about !

    Is CTR a main ranking factor, Emphatically NOT! Is it used to adjust the main ranking factors, Emphatically YES ! So when Google says its not a ranking factor I believe them in that you should not try to measure it like you would the same way you measure the performance of back links. Google even says the signal can be gamed, I know it can be gamed, but in a controlled environment, Google does use it to check the effectiveness of its' main algorithms in how they are affected by CTR in their "Controlled Experiments" !

    So it is used, and it is not a metric that can be easily explained for the novice SEO practitioner ! Hell it is even hard for the Practicing SEO Specialist ! Btw, there are a few residents of this forum that fall in to that latter category, in my opinion, that participate here !

    We are not telling anyone that they can "QUANTIFY" this metric, in fact this metric is elusive and hard to track. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It would be used to "GAME GOOGLE DAILY".

    Bottom line....

    CTR is use by Google, and as I said, not the way most folks think and proof has been provided. Does the novice need to concern themselves with it. Well yes, they need to do all they can to improve CTR! Understanding how to implement CTR improvements is what they pay us for !

    To sit here and debate is it a major rankig factor is mute. Google says it is not a main factor, but it is an adjustment factor for algos. By Google's own admission this has been be proven to me at least.

    CTR is factored in when it comes to ranking a site, as proscribed by Google, no by your's , mine, or anyone else's definition.

    Comments on this post

    • Prof.stan agrees : yes it works
    Last edited by KnowOneSpecial; Jan 15th, 2018 at 07:48 AM.
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    CTR is factored in when it comes to ranking a site, as proscribed by Google, no by your's , mine, or anyone else's definition.
    I also believe in that but I got confused once I read John post, anyway thank you very much for your give reference now I am very clear on it
    You do your business I do mine because you are you and I am I If we meet it is nice.
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    Originally Posted by KernelPanic
    Excellent post! That should put the matter to rest once and for all. Yes, CTR is a ranking signal.
    Thank you KP I got your points wrongly previously but I agree that CRT could be influenced organic searches and that makes me sense after reading given reference........
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    I have to admit, I've recently put a massive emphasis on CTR. It's actually risen by 300% on a lot of keywords which is a total shock to me (a good one obviously).

    Despite this, I've actually had a slight decrease in the SERPS in terms of positioning. More traffic mind, which I'm happy with - although this isn't a test of a huge scale, this leads me to believe that maybe it's not a primary ranking factor. Possibly a tie-breaker (or a secondary factor as KOS put it)

    Either way, the results based on traffic has certainly swayed me to focus a lot more on CTR
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    Well it seems we're all pretty much in agreement on this one. We, along with Larry Kim and a Google Engineer who created this: https://www.slideshare.net/SearchMar...-by-paul-haahr (Note slide 30)

    Glad that's finally put to rest!

    Comments on this post

    • KnowOneSpecial agrees
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    Quote by KP: Well it seems we're all pretty much in agreement on this one. We, along with Larry Kim and a Google Engineer who created this: "How Google Works - a ranking engineers perspective by Paul Haarh"
    (Note slide 30) Glad that's finally put to rest!

    Hi All,
    Again we have a reference article posted that claims to support CTR as a G ranking signal. In fact, the reference only consists of a bullet list from 69 slides.

    If folk attempt to draw accurate conclusions based on a bullet list taken from a 69 slide presentation, the most likely outcome will be inaccurate nonsense.

    It seems we may have in the above post a near perfect example of how the CTR myth is being promulgated.

    To check this we need:

    • A video of the presentation that contained the slides ref'ed
    • A slide show of the 69 slides used in the presentation
    • A written transcription or summary of the presentation

    All of these can be found on this single web page.


    To save you time, I've grouped and summarised how the slides are used in Haahr's presentation.

    Haahr Slides 1-15:
    The video and slides start with Haarh summarizing how Google works. The words CTR are not used at all in this section of the presentation.

    Haahr Slides 16 - 24:
    Here Haahr moves to the topic of "what search engineers do". This includes:

    • Write code
    • Look for new signals
    • Optimize for our metrics (improve the relevancy of searcher intent with the actual results)

    Still no reference to CTR and any part it may play in anything.

    Haahr Slides 25 - 28:
    Haahr now explains in more detail what metrics G engineers use to assess their function and experiments.

    • Where do they come from (the metrics)
    • How do we measure ourselves (Live experiments, human raters)

    Haahr Slides 29:
    This slide starts to address the problems of live experiments. It includes the bullet point:

    • "Look for changes in click patterns
    • Harder to understand than you may think."

    The presentation makes it clear that this and subsequent slides have NOTHING to do with how G's algorithm ranks web pages. Haarh is ONLY talking about how engineers test and measure their activities.

    Haahr Slides 30:
    This is the slide that is supposed to put to rest any debate about G's use of CTR in its ranking algo.

    Watching the live video shows us this slide is not even talking about G's algo ranking signals.

    It is being used to demonstrate how inconsistent is any ranking signal based on SERP clicks. Hence, the hanging question at the bottom of the slide:

    "Do we really think A is better than B?"

    So, far from confirming that CTR is used as a ranking signal this slide is actually intended to confirm to us that it is a poor metric for measuring result "quality".

    Haahr Slides 31 - 69:
    From here, Haarh discusses:

    • Human Rater Experiments
    • Page Quality Rating
    • Development Process
    • What Goes Wrong
    • Bad Ratings
    • Missing Metrics

    Nothing in here about CTR as a ranking signal but there is a lot of very valuable info in this part of the presentation.

    Some may quibble that Haahr does not say CTR is NOT a search ranking signal. That is answered more directly in the Q&A session from the same SEO conference:

    Mar 2016: Paul Haahr & Gary Illyes video. Q&A session from SMX West 2016.

    At the 15min 58sec point...

    Sullivan asks: Do you want to comment on the question that will never die, CTR. In the past I think the last thing I recall offical from G is "we use CTR to our search results to reassure that what we are doing is right, we don't use CTR as a ranking factor in and of itself".

    Haarh answers: We use CTR for experiments. We use it for (search) personalisation.

    It is a challenging thing to use it in any circumstances. People try all sorts of crazy things - they don't necessarily work...

    Illyes interjects: Even when you do experiments and you have a controlled group, even then it is hard to interpret the engagement.

    Haarh responds: There are so many experiments we have done that have very misleading live metrics that you really have to dig into them.

    The team then discuss various examples of tests that have demonstrated inconsistent CTR signals. This includes where the CTR for position 10 in the SERPS is more than the combined totals of #8 and #9.


    So there you have it from the Googlers. CTR signals are so ineffective and inconsistent that the argument over CTR as a ranking signal has been completely emasculated/invalidated by G's tests.

    Most of the articles written about SEs and SEO are out-dated, wrong, misleading or biased. Some of the worst offenders are very prolific publishers with large follower bases.

    One of the most crucial skills an SEO has to learn is culling out the many prolific but inaccurate SE/SEO dross articles they will encounter.

    I hope this post gives you some pointers and confidence to question the self generated "authority" of various SEO article publishers with large follower numbers.

    PS. My personal thanks to KP for:

    • Giving us a seemingly endless supply of case studies that demonstrate the importance of SEOs checking the currency, relevancy and accuracy of SE articles.
    • Adding yet another nail to the coffin of the "CTR as a ranking signal" myth - even if it was unintended.
    Last edited by JohnAimit; Jan 18th, 2018 at 08:43 PM.
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    Thanks John for your summary of your referrals you are good indeed. So after reading your post and KP posts, I conclude, not matters CTR is a ranking signal or not but you still believe we would need to improve this. That would be optimized by different attributed including meta descriptions, alt content and this is my own understand and your opinion could be different
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    Hi Prof. Stan,
    I was only talking about CTR and the G ranking algo because that was the thread topic.

    People certainly want to encourage potential clients to click on their links in the SERPs but this is a conversion issue and nothing to do with where the page ranks.

    The problem we have with conversion is that it is the searcher and G who mostly control our pages' listing description. Examples:

    SEO Chat Home Page Real Title and Content Tag:

    Title: SEO Chat - Search Engine Optimization News and Talk
    Content meta tag: Search Engine Optimization News and Talk

    Google SERP Listing for the Home page of various search queries...

    For Search Query: SEO Chat

    SEO Chat - Search Engine Optimization News and Talk
    Great Community, Great Ideas. Welcome to Seochat, a community dedicated to helping beginners and professionals alike in improving their Search Engine Optimization knowledge. Join Now for free Enter the forum. open slide down content block ...

    For Search Query: seo chat social networking

    SEO Chat - Search Engine Optimization News and Talk
    Social. Social networking not only helps us share our knowledge but is an invaluable resource for staying in touch with the internet marketing community and everything search related.
    Social Chat SEO Chat Tools SEO Chat Forums Register at SEO Chat Forums

    For Search Query: seo chat Keyword Clustering: Best Resources, Techniques and Tools

    SEO Chat - Search Engine Optimization News and Talk
    Social networking not only helps us share our knowledge but is an invaluable resource for staying in touch with the internet marketing community and everything search related.

    SEO Chat's Home page meta description is not even displayed if you search for "SEO Chat". G selects content snippets that match the individual search query words from the page visible text and the meta description, if relevant.

    One SEO objective should be for a specific page to rank top for as many relevant search queries as possible.

    I only know one way to approach the task and that is to think long and hard in your page planning process.

    • What sort of client is the page for?
    • What is the info they are likely to want as they progress through their purchasing process?
    • What individual words are likely to feature in search queries combined with the page's "prime" search terms?

    I find the omission of important individual words from a web page can be the biggest barrier to search engine referrals and effective SERP displayed descriptions.

    One of the parameters I would check in an SEO audit of a product catalogue or shopping site would be to assess on how many site pages these types of words would be used:

    "price",
    "buy",
    "reviews",
    "quote",
    "order",
    "delivery"

    You would be surprised at how many sites only used some of the words and then only on a small number of pages.

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    • Prof.stan agrees : good :)
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    n a Federal Trade Commission court case, Google's former Search Quality chief, Udi Manber, testified the following:

    "The ranking itself is affected by the click data. If we discover that, for a particular query, hypothetically, 80 percent of people click on Result No. 2 and only 10 percent click on Result No. 1, after a while we figure probably Result 2 is the one people want. So we'll switch it."

    Edmond Lau, who also used to work on Google Search Quality, said something similar:

    "It's pretty clear that any reasonable search engine would use click data on their own results to feed back into ranking to improve the quality of search results. Infrequently clicked results should drop toward the bottom because they're less relevant, and frequently clicked results bubble toward the top."

    Want more? Back in 2011, Amit Singhal, one of Google's top search engineers, mentioned in an interview with Wall Street Journal that Google had added numerous "signals," or factors into its algorithm for ranking sites. "How users interact with a site is one of those signals".
    Case closed
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    I just pulled up an old thread - and I recall I did do a study on this too.


    Google Ranking Positions and %CTR: Estimating Search Engine Visitors - SEO Chat

    Google Ranking Positions and %CTR: Estimating Search Engine Visitors

    Perhaps the term CTR is too specific and user behavior is a more appropriate catch all, with CTR being a sub set of user behavior.

    I haven't recently looked at this, and I would bet the algorithms to interpret user behavior are much more than just single value metrics but I would still expect CTR to be something that does influence the SERP position, and as Kp showed and was testified too - it still seems pretty clear to me that CTR is in some small part a metric used to rank web sites.
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    Here's one of the oldest discussions I could find on UB being a ranking signal. Good read imo: Google Changes
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